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The Pleasure Principle

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Public Speaking and Healing the Father Gaze

By Lee Glickstein

In another article I reported that modern brain science explains the potency of Relational Presence practice in healing the deficit in the "gaze of attunement" that infants ideally shared with a mother figure starting around age 4 months. (See article.) 

Having missed a flow of mother mirroring conveying: "You are love, you are safe, we are one," many of us from highly stressed families grew into self-conscious adults.

Birth of the Father Gaze

Then I met Ray Arata and we identified the Father Gaze. (Note: Mother Mirroring and the Father Gaze may be provided by adults of either gender.)

The Father Gaze ideally kicks in when the toddler tries to accomplish something in the world of objects, conveying "You are remarkable. You can do it. I believe in you."

Ray and I began reflecting on the questions: "How did your dad look at you? What did he see in you? How has that influenced your self-image? How has that impacted your relationships, your work, your leadership?" We do this inquiry in Relational Presence while consciously providing and receiving the Father Gaze from each other. This is how I came to see where my dad's eye-daggers still live in me.

How the Father Gaze Relates to Public Speaking

My first public speaking experiences were as a toddler of limited vocabulary expressing myself at the dinner table. Night after night, these early attempts to verbalize elicited daggers of contempt from my dad. I read in his eyes that I was a distraction of little value.This perspective dominated my self-image for decades, and internalizing his harsh gaze led to decades of stage fright.

(My dad grew up during the Great Depression and heroically eked out a living under conditions more severe than I would ever face. But a toddler has no historical perspective.)

Learning to read positive regard in the eyes of others through Relational Presence practice transforms how we let ourselves be seen in our essence and brings out our best with groups. Learning how to provide it to others brings out their best.   

Our Conclusions and Invitation

What comes through the father figure's gaze to the preverbal child profoundly influences his or her self-image, relationships, and sense of value in the world. Until brought to awareness, it directly impacts public speaking and leadership capacity.    

In bringing the Father Gaze inquiry to others who have done significant work on themselves, we find that we have tapped into a largely unexamined realm. As we explore and develop this territory, we are curious to hear others' stories brought to light by the questions above.

© Copyright 2011, Lee Glickstein. All rights reserved.

 

 

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